Challenger Type - The Real and Human

Making person-to-person connections through real care and commitment
While flying commercially elicits a variety of feelings like dread or excitement, no matter who you are, when you fly, there’s going to be admin involved. Flying can sometimes be a somewhat unpleasant experience – especially in the age of Covid.

But knowing that somebody cares about your experience, and is doing their utmost to make it better, can help make it a little more bearable.

That’s where we believe FlySafair (pronounced ‘fly-saf-air’) comes in. FlySafair is one of South Africa’s low-cost airlines, launched in 2014 with only two aircraft (although the company behind FlySafair, Safair, has been a major player in aviation since 1965). But this isn’t the grin-and-bear it kind of low-cost airline. FlySafair is consistently recognised as a leader in customer experience and aviation leadership, winning various awards in the category.

The fresh-faced pink-and-blue airline entered the South African commercial aviation scene as a challenger. While the South African domestic aviation industry has historically been a fiercely competitive one that has seen a number of low-cost carriers come and go, even brands in the category that had once stood out as shining examples of category defiance had started losing their sparkle, which created an opportunity to fill the gap.

We believe that what makes FlySafair truly stand out is that it is a Real and Human challenger - a group of people who genuinely care about what they are doing, their relationship with you and about the people who are making it happen for you.

This comes through in their vision that articulates that they want to be South Africa’s favourite airline, and their mission “to unite people with who and what they love, by providing a low-fare, hassle-free, and on-time travel experience.”

As a Real and Human challenger, FlySafair also looks to build human connections beyond commercial transactions – for example, by greeting customers every morning and evening on Twitter with personal sign offs, or through dad jokes and horrible puns which make us think of the airline as “one of us”. We are invited to think of this less as a brand and more as a group of people, constantly pushing to bring us something better.

Challenger Type - The Real and Human
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Challenger Type - The Real and Human
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These human connections are also evident in FlySafair’s employee relationships, with positive reviews from both current and past employees.

Challenger Type - The Real and Human
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Part of what drives this Real and Human challenger’s success is a clear commitment to care. For example, FlySafair claims that part of the impetus to launch was to open the skies to many who had never flown before through affordable fares – and to see this commitment through, the airline has partnered with Mobicred for a ‘fly now, pay later’ option. In fact, FlySafair has collaborated with a number of partners to make payment as easy as possible for customers.

Challenger Type - The Real and Human
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On top of this, FlySafair has delivered on a number of promises and initiatives driven by uniting people with who and what they love. For one, the airline has been recognised as the most

on-time in Africa and the Middle East, with 95% of their flights arriving within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. They have also entered into a number of interline agreements with leading global airlines to make connecting flights simpler and more seamless for travellers. FlySafair’s annual birthday sale (put on hold in 2020 for obvious reasons) makes flights ridiculously affordable for South Africans – in 2018, they made R5 flights available to 30,000 passengers, and in 2019, they kicked this up to 45,000 flights. And when commercial travel was once again allowed under South Africa’s Level 3 lockdown, FlySafair reopened despite known losses due to reduced capacity, driven once again by uniting people with who and what they love.

There are two prerequisites to be a Real and Human challenger: loads of personality and charm, as well as tech-savviness. This challenger needs to offer unparalleled customer service with attentive responsiveness, so prioritises humanised technology and media channels that allow for real-time interaction with customers.

Challenger Type - The Real and Human
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Having a personality doesn’t require that you are the loudest voice in the category, but rather the most authentic and consistent – and, in this case, FlySafair certainly has enough personality to go around. Take, for example, FlySafair’s this insurance cover communication: it has no mention of insurance – rather it’s a ‘Life Happens service’.

And when it comes to tech, FlySafair makes its decisions based on what will most effectively enhance the customer experience. For instance, the airline launched Express Check-In in 2018 – a technology that enables the airline’s queue combers to check-in passengers without checked-in luggage before they even reach the check-in counter, servicing them quickly. FlySafair has also made boarding passes available to customers via WhatsApp. When it comes to tech, it might seem strange that the airline has no app, but official comments on this are that the airline will consider an app only if it will make its flights cheaper or improve customer experience.

And, while there is always more work to be done in enhancing the customer experience (as is the case in all service businesses), we believe that FlySafair’s heart is definitely in the right place:

“We love everything about flying: We love aircraft and the miracle that is modern flight. We love adventure. We love connecting people, and most of all, we love sharing our passion for flying with our customers.”

1FlySafair’s About Us page
2IT Web
3FlySafair’s About Us page

eatbigfish is a strategic brand consultancy whose unique focus is challenger thinking and behaviour. Our expertise is grounded in The Challenger Project – our study of how Challenger Brands succeed by doing more with less.

We act as catalysts rather than consultants and, through our collaborative approach, we provide inspiration and frameworks which enable ‘would be’ challengers to deliver breakthrough solutions for their teams and brands.

Challenger Type - The Real and Human

If you would like to speak to someone, please call or email our local representative for Africa Middle East: Delta Victor Bravo (Pty) Ltd

Contact David Blyth – moc.hsifgibtae@divad

Telephone: +27 71 483 8514

11 Dec 2020 12:05